Normal Public Library Teens

Asian American

Tell Us We’re Home by Marina Bhudos

Jaya, Maria, and Lola are just like the other eighth-grade girls in the wealthy suburb of Meadowbrook, New Jersey. They want to go to the spring dance, they love spending time with their best friends after school, sharing frappes and complaining about the other kids. But there’s one big difference: all three are daughters of maids and nannies. And they go to school with the very same kids whose families their mothers work for. That difference grows even bigger—and more painful—when Jaya’s mother is accused of theft. When tensions about immigrants start to erupt, fracturing this perfect, serene suburb, all three girls are tested, as outsiders—and as friends. Each of them must learn to find a place for themselves in a town that barely notices they exist. (M)

Re-Gifters by Mike Carey

Meet Jen Dik Seong – or “Dixie” as she’s known to her friends. Korean American, dirt poor, and living on the ragged edge of LA’s Koreatown, Dixie’s only outlet is the ancient martial art of hapkido. In fact, she’s on the verge of winning a championship – until she falls for fellow hapkido fan/California surfer boy Adam and gets thrown spectacularly off her game. As she struggles to win the tournament – not to mention Adam’s affections – Dixie learns that in love and in gift-giving, what goes around comes around. (M, S)

She’s So Money by Cherry Cheva

Maya has always been the good girl, helping out at her family’s Thai restaurant after school. Camden is the popular jock with a bigger ego than brain. Maya never thought there’d be a reason for them to, like, interact. But when the biggest mistake of her life lands her in need of a seriously devious plan, she discovers Camden isn’t as dumb as he looks. And now that Maya’s playing the bad girl (lying, cheating, swindling, and, um, shopping), she might as well do it right and flirt with the bad boy… (S)

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Frances, a Chinese-American student at an academically competitive school in San Francisco in the 1980s, has always had it drilled into her to be obedient to her mother and to be a straight-A student so that she can go to Med school.  But is being a doctor what she wants?  It has never even occurred to Frances to question her own feelings and desires until she accidentally winds up in speech class and finds herself with a hidden talent.  Does she dare to challenge the mother who has sacrificed everything for her?  (S)

Indie Girl by Kavita Daswani

Indie Konkipuddi has always dreamed of becoming a fashion reporter. She’d do anything to land an internship with glamorous Celebrity Style magazine – even babysit publisher Aaralyn Taylor’s two-year-old son. Indie’s neurosurgeon dad can’t understand why Indie would want to spend her weekends picking Play-Doh off of someone else’s Persian carpets, and pretty soon she starts asking herself the same thing. Then Indie finds out that (1) Celebrity Style is in trouble, and (2) Hollywood’s hottest star is having her wedding dress made in a village in India. Indie’s sure she’s scored the juiciest gossip in town – the kind of story that will finally land her that internship! But when things don’t pan out exactly as planned, Indie wonders – will Aaralyn ever see her as anything more than just the hired help? (M, S)

Fresh Off the Boat by Melissa de la Cruz

Newly arrived from the Phillippines, 14-year-old Vicenza is a scholarship student at a snooty private girls’ school in San Francisco. She dreams of love with Tobey Maguire, not having to shop at thrift stores, and being accepted by the wealthy, popular girls at school. Instead, she and her family work multiple jobs and squeeze every penny to manage private schools for Vicenza and her little sister. (M, S)

Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami

Meet Amber, Jazz, and Geena Dhillon—a.k.a. the Bindi Babes. They’re three fabulous sisters with a reputation for being the coolest, best-dressed girls at their school. But their classmates don’t know that the Dhillon sisters work extra hard to look perfect and together to all of their friends…while privately trying not to think how much they miss their mom, who died a year ago. What these struggling sisters certainly don’t need is an interfering auntie from India inviting herself into their household to cramp their style. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what their dad allows to happen. (M)

Nothing But the Truth (And a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen Headley

Getting her fortune told by a Taiwanese “belly-button grandmother” (who feels up her navel) instead of attending the spring dance is just one of the joys of being Patty Ho, a covertly snarky hapa (half Asian, half white) struggling with her dual heritage. Patty’s domineering mother is determined to make her a good Taiwanese girl, but gangly Patty longs to be just like her long-gone white father. (M, S)

Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley

Everybody thinks Syrah is the golden girl. After all, her father is Ethan Cheng, billionaire, and she has everything any kid could possibly desire, right down to a waterfront mansion, jet plane, and custom-designed snowboards. But Syrah’s reality is different. Her half-siblings hate her, her best friend’s girlfriend is ruining their friendship, and her own so-called boyfriend is after her for her father’s name. When her broken heart results in a snowboarding accident that exiles her from the mountains – the one place where she feels free and accepted for who she is, not what she has – Syrah must rehab both her busted-up knee, and her broken heart. (M, S)

Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier

Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she’s spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a “suitable boy.” Of course it doesn’t go well – until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. (S)

Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata

Sumiko feels her life has been made up of two parts: before Pearl Harbor and after it. The good part and the bad part. Raised on a flower farm in California, Sumiko is used to being the only Japanese girl in her class. Even when the other kids tease her, she always has had her flowers and family to go home to. Now, other Americans start to suspect that all Japanese people are spies for the emperor and Sumiko and her family find themselves being shipped to an internment camp in one of the hottest deserts in the United States. Sumiko soon discovers that the camp is on an Indian reservation and that the Japanese are as unwanted there as they’d been at home. But then she meets a young Mohave boy who might just become her first real friend… (M)

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s her sister Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering – kira-kira – in the future. (M)

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

Nina Khan feels like an outsider, and there are two things that she thinks particularly set her apart from others in her small town: her perfect older sister, Sonia, and the fact that she has inherited the “Pakistani hairy gene.” It’s bad enough that she has dark hair on her legs, arms, and face, but then she also grows a dark, downy stripe down her back. And if that’s not enough, her parents have very firm views on social behavior: she is not allowed to date or attend parties. She has always chafed at the restrictions, but she becomes even more resentful after she develops a mutual attraction with a handsome classmate. (M, S)

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life – like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition – Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles. (A/YA)

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

Seventeen-year-old Samar – a.k.a. Sam – has never known much about her Indian heritage. Her mom has deliberately kept Sam away from her old-fashioned family. It’s never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a really cute but demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam’s house, and he turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam isn’t sure what to do, until a girl at school calls her a coconut – brown on the outside, white on the inside. That decides it: Why shouldn’t Sam get to know her family? Then some boys attack her uncle, shouting, “Go back home, Osama!” and Sam realizes she could be in danger – and also discovers how dangerous ignorance can be. (M, S)

A Step From Heaven by An Na

Young Ju emigrates from Korea with her parents when she is four. A few months later, they live in a shabby apartment in Southern California, their family expanded to include a newborn baby boy. The parents work long hours at multiple jobs, and Young Ju struggles first to understand what is going on in school and then to be permitted to participate in typically American schoolgirl activities. Will the pressures of immigration, language difficulties, and cultural expectations cause her family’s destruction? (S)

The Fold by An Na

Joyce never used to care that much about how she looked, but that was before she met JFK—John Ford Kang, the most gorgeous guy in school. And it doesn’t help that she’s constantly being compared to her beautiful older sister, Helen. Then her rich plastic-surgery-addict aunt offers Joyce a gift to “fix” a part of herself she’d never realized needed fixing—her eyes. Joyce has heard of the fold surgery—a common procedure meant to make Asian women’s eyes seem “prettier” and more “American”—but she’s not sure she wants to go through with it. Her friend Gina can’t believe she isn’t thrilled. After all, the plastic surgeon has shown Joyce that her new eyes will make her look just like Helen—but is that necessarily a good thing? (M, S)

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins

The race for the presidency is on, and Sameera’s dad is a contender. Sameera’s looking forward to some cool campaign perks: hobnobbing with celebrities, meeting smart and hunky young voters, and getting a total makeover. The makeover succeeds in making her look more polished, but some of the campaign staffers aren’t content to stop there. They think the candidate’s dark-skinned, adopted daughter could hurt his chances if she doesn’t “try to be more American.” As the pressure builds, Sameera is forced to choose: Will she hide behind a fake persona or speak up for her true self? (M, S)

Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

When eighth-grader San Lee moves to a new town and a new school for the umpteenth time, he doesn’t try to make new friends or be a loner or play cool. Instead he sits back and devises a plan to be totally different. When he accidentally answers too many questions in World History on Zen (only because he just had Ancient Religions two schools ago) all heads turn and San has his answer: he’s a Zen Master. And just when he thinks everyone (including the cute girl he can’t stop thinking about) is on to him, everyone believes him…in a major Zen way. (M)

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school in the early ’90s. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself — the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It’s a weird time to fall in love, but that’s what happens to Skim when she starts meeting secretly with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. But then Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, and Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation while her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into “real” life by setting up a hilarious double-date for the school’s semi formal.  (S)

Candle in the Wind by Maureen Wartski

On the night of a party celebrating his acceptance into Harvard, Harris Mizuno, a Japanese-American teenager, is shot dead by an elderly white man who mistakes him for an intruder when Harris asks to use the phone because his car has stalled. It’s up his sister Terri Mizuno to take charge when her family falls apart. Worse, the town of Whiteriver, Massachusetts, erupts into hatred and bigotry over the sensationalized court case that follows. As white supremacist groups descend on the town and attacks of hate graffiti, vandalism, and violence mount against Asian families, the threat of even more bloodshed emerges. Terri knows she must shine the light of reason and understanding on the torn community. And as she tries, she finds help in the most unexpected places… (S)

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Through three separate, seemingly unconnected stories, this graphic novel tells the story of a Chinese American teenager as he faces racial stereotypes. (M, S)

Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee

Millicent Min is having a bad summer. Her fellow high school students hate her for setting the curve. Her fellow 11-year-olds hate her for going to high school. And her mother has arranged for her to tutor Stanford Wong, the poster boy for Chinese geekdom. But then Millie meets Emily. Emily doesn’t know Millicent’s IQ score. She actually thinks Millie is cool. And if Millie can hide her awards, ignore her grandmother’s advice, swear her parents to silence, blackmail Stanford, and keep all her lies straight, she just might make her first friend.What’s it going to take? Sheer genius. (M)

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before by David Yoo

By the end of sophomore year, Albert Kim is used to being a loser at Bern High School. Then he meets Mia Stone. Mia, his co-worker at the Bern Inn, is adorable, popular…and the ex-long-term girlfriend of king of BHS and world class jerk, Ryan Stackhouse. But – chalk it up to the magic of Al’s inner beauty – by the end of the summer he and Mia are officially “something.” Albert barely has time to ponder this miracle before the bomb drops: Ryan has been diagnosed with cancer, and he needs Mia’s support, i.e. constant companionship. True, he’s lost weight and he’s getting radiation, but that doesn’t make him any less of a jerk. And to Albert, it couldn’t be more apparent that Ryan is using his cancer to steal Mia back. But with the whole town rallying behind Ryan like he’s a fallen hero, what can Al do? (S)

 
 

Grade Level Interest
M Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.

 
 
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